Dabo Swinney, Les Miles both happy being 'Death Valley Tigers'

Clemson coach says his program striving to attain LSU-like consistency at elite level

Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney talks to media near Dan Radakovich, Clemson athletic director, during a press conference inviting Clemson to the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta on December 31.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney talks to media near Dan Radakovich, Clemson athletic director, during a press conference inviting Clemson to the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta on December 31.

By mutual agreement of coaches Dabo Swinney and Les Miles, Clemson and LSU won't be putting their status as Death Valley Tigers on the line when their teams play New Year's Eve at the Georgia Dome.

"I don't know that we're looking to change names - there's a deep-seated feeling at both schools that we're both Tigers," said Miles, adding that there's plenty of room in college football for two Death Valleys.

There is something Swinney would like to borrow from LSU, however.

"Hopefully we can eventually have a similar program from a consistency standpoint," said Swinney, seated beside Miles at the Chick-fil-A Bowl's press conference on Monday in Atlanta. "In my opinion, LSU is as good as any team in the country...This is a big challenge. He (Miles) has a national championship ring on his finger for a reason. He's done a great job there."

Both coaches say their teams will be looking to build momentum for the off-season in a game that many have tabbed as one of the bowl season's top three matchups.

"I think it's important for the momentum we take into recruiting," said Miles. "Each team has its own personality. This team has a different feel from our bowl team last year. This year's bowl speaks to this year's team, but the experience carries over."

Bowl win crucial for momentum

"Everybody wants to win their last game - the fun is in the winning," said Swinney. "You want to win the last one, whether you have six wins or 10 wins.

"When we get back together in January, it will be a different team. But for the guys coming back, (a win over LSU) would put some wind in their sails and build momentum going into a rigorous off-season."

Swinney said he was excited about bookending Clemson's season with games against SEC Tigers in the Georgia Dome "until I saw they (LSU) were 9-1 in the Dome - then I lost some of my enthusiasm."

Both coaches described the game as "a great opportunity."

"This one is a game worth fighting for," said Miles.

"When you look across the landscape of college football, it's not often you get a chance to play a top-10 team," said Swinney. "I'm proud of my guys. We're starting to build some consistency in our program, building our brand. This is a big opportunity for us."

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Comments » 3

Xander5000 writes:

The brand was already built....trying to sustain it every year is the real challenge. I would like to see though Death Valley in Clemson expand to more seats so we can get to 100 thousand fans in there. Maybe above the East Endzone have two sets of semi-highriser seats. One on the right and the left at the top of "The Hill" on each side and put them right above the student body section, the phyiscally challenged section, and the band all by "The Hill". Each side could have 250 seats and it could be a little higher than the video-scoreboard.

Bigboots writes:

We don't fill up 82,000 all that often.
As long as we are in the ACC, no need to expand.

Tigerfan75 writes:

in response to Xander5000:

The brand was already built....trying to sustain it every year is the real challenge. I would like to see though Death Valley in Clemson expand to more seats so we can get to 100 thousand fans in there. Maybe above the East Endzone have two sets of semi-highriser seats. One on the right and the left at the top of "The Hill" on each side and put them right above the student body section, the phyiscally challenged section, and the band all by "The Hill". Each side could have 250 seats and it could be a little higher than the video-scoreboard.

Yeah the brand was built... A long time ago... But like a house you built a long time ago you have to keep up the house. If not it will eventually become run down. The football program didn't have the proper up keep for a long time. Tommy Bowden did a good job getting it to a certain point. I think Dabo Swinney has done a good job so far trying to take it to another level and sustain it. Given the time and some patience he can get it there. In my opinion.

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